Anxiety. Worry. Stress.
There are several words to describe these feelings that so many of us are so accustomed to. Life is hard. We all face circumstances in which we are uncertain. Our troubles in this world are not few. Worry is only natural, right?
Well, Scripture doesn’t seem to think so. Paul says in Philippians 4:6,“…do not be anxious for anything.” Jesus too, in Matthew 6:25 says, “…do not be anxious about your life.” Then again in verse 34 he says, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself, sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I’m not sure about you, but at first glance verse 34 isn’t all that comforting. Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t worry, things are fine. Trouble is a thing of the past…Life is smooth sailing from now on guys.” No, Jesus doesn’t deny the reality of trouble and suffering, yet he still tells us not to be anxious.
So, how can he say this?
As I’ve been mulling this question over in my mind the past few days, my mind goes back to the beginning of Matthew 6. I think prayer is the key. As Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, the first two verses of the Lord’s prayer goes like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I believe our peace of mind is rooted in these two verses. We have a sovereign God who rules the universe. Nothing happens to us that doesn’t pass through his almighty fingers. I used to read these two verses as if they were simply a petition, “Our Father, may your name be hallowed…may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But the more I think about it, I believe these verses are more a statement of fact. The only reason we can finish out the Lord’s prayer, the only reason we can pray at all is because the will of God is indeed done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Sometimes it’s hard to see this. Sometimes we can’t figure out what God is doing. Still, the Bible assures us that God always has our best interests at heart. (Romans 8:28) When we see things from this perspective, we can indeed rest in the promises of God…We can cease our worries and put away our anxiousness.
I suppose though, the question becomes, how can we keep this perspective? How can we keep our mind focused firmly on these promises? I believe the key is prayer. Like I said, Matthew 6:34 is only possible in light of Matthew 6:9-10. In much the same way, in Philippians 4:6, when Paul says,“…do not be anxious about anything…” he follows up that statement by telling us to pray, “...but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Our peace of mind comes from our knowledge that we have a good God who is sovereign over all. Many times in life we loose this perspective, this is why prayer is so key. If we continually are seeking God in prayer, we will be continually reminded of who God is. As we pray the words of Jesus from the Lord’s prayer, we remember that indeed our God is sovereign, and in total control. Therefore his name is worthy to be praised.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation…” Psalm 42:5
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30